Week 2: Cows & Pesticide

 

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Inspired by last week’s reading, which went into some detail about “mega-dairy farms” I found myself questioning my own food habits. When I first became interested in where and how my food was produced in Sophomore year, I eagerly switched to dairy-alternatives, trying coconut yogurt, soy milk, and even on one occasion “imitation cheese” (which is where I drew the line). These types of purchases can be expensive however, and in the past few years I’ve fallen back on old dairy habits, especially as I’ve taken on the brunt of my living expenses.

In contradiction to this, I really love cows—they have best friends, hold grudges, and have almost 360° panoramic vision—and I know that the idealistic scenes on my milk cartoons and yogurt containers are not the reality of most dairy farms. Faced again with this realization, I decided to jump back into the dairy-alternative world.

I went to Newark Natural Foods, because I knew I would have plenty of options to choose from. I compared prices for grass-fed, organic dairy milk ($5+) to soy ($2+), flax ($3+), and coconut ($3+) milk; my budget led me to pick soy. There was another sticker-shock at the yogurt section, where individual cups of yogurt were well beyond the one per. dollar range I was accustomed to. Luckily there was a 5/5 sale on Silk yogurts.

I stopped myself from looking at the cheese products. Like seafood, there is just no suitable vegetarian replacement for cheese. I think in the future I will look for pasture-raised, grass-fed, organic, etc. cheeses (and purchase in very frugal quantities).

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This week’s reading has added another grocery goal: organic produce. While not exactly shocked at the amount of pesticides used in both export and national crops, it was still unsettling to read about. I thought one of the best lines in the reading was, “Ironically some of the healthiest foods could be harboring dangerous levels of pesticides.” Which led to the purchase of the organic apples above for $8.

This reading in particular also expanded my area of concern regarding pesticides. In the past my main worry is the impact of pesticide residue to my own body. Even though DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, and Britain in 1986 I know there are still remnants in my adipose tissue.

Never less, as a consumer I am far better off than the farm workers who come into contact with pesticides on a regular basis. According to the WHO someone in an underdeveloped country is poisoned by pesticides every minute. The chronic effects are no less worse, however, with the increased risk of cancer, birth defects, and reduced cognitive performance.

 

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